From the monthly archives: January 2011

There are three new polymer clay things to show today; I’ve been working on them for quite a while, trying to decide through experiments what the best process would be for them.

The first is polymer clay toggle clasps – if you look closely, you’ll see my Beads and Beyond competition entires both had my handmade polymer clay clasps on them.

Polymer Clay Necklace

I had to wait until the judging was over to show any of the other clasps, because I was paranoid (possibly a bit too much) that they would be recognized as being from the same person, and the entries were all supposed to be anonymous. But now that and Christmas have both passed, I can finally send them out into my Etsy shop.

Clasp  Clasp   

There are two types; one which has connections already attatched, in silver-plated or copper wire, and one which has holes for you to put your own choice of headpin through.

The second new things is buttons. I didn’t set out to make them, but since I’d alsready amassed quite a lot of tiny button-shaped pieces of polymer clay through my work, I thought I may as well take advantage and make buttons on purpose.

bb (2)

And third is what I would call a ‘collection’ if I dared. Okay, I *am* calling it a collection. It’s called the British Hedgerow Collection, because the pieces feature flowers, leaves and other ephemera that you see as you walk along British bridlepaths and footpaths. (Disclaimer; I cannot guarantee you will see these flowers in your own hedgerow; my hedgerow’s may be non-standard. And wow, that’s an odd thing to admit)

Morning Meadow  Sunday Wandering

 

Sometimes I cannot believe the amount of work photopgraphing and uploading can be. But it’s mostly done for the moment, so I can say with actual cheer – my shop has been re-vamped and there’s some new stock, with more being added over the week.

Here’s a peek at what’s in, and what will be in, ContinuumDesigns:

And because I’m not cool at all, and am one of those people who say ‘Yes, and it was really cheap too!” when someone compliments my dress, I am going to tell you what my beads are sitting on in those photos: it may look like a bit of rock, but it’s lino. Yup. Sorry if I’ve ruined the mystique for you all *G* But hey, there’s a tip for you – look out for scrap bits of lino - because they rock.

P.S. I’ll be sending out a super-secret discount coupon code to my mailing-list subscribers soon, so if you want to join, no’ws the time. Links on the sidebar :)

 

I couldn’t help myself  – I joined up for the Bead Soup Blog Party. I just love the idea of receiving a set of random beads and making something from them…it gives me a feeling of structure *G* My partner is Laurel Steven , who I’ve just discovered, after nosing around her blog and shop, makes beautiful polymer clay items such as delicately stamped and decorated focal pendants. They’re the type of bead I love, but can’t make myself, so it’s lovely to look through her shop – plus, I love her suggestion to put a mini-collage in the cut-out centre of her heart pendants.

 
Compared to electrical, fabric and food industries, artisan jewellery making is probably a small drain on the world’s resources. But hey, we have to do what little we can, right? So here’s a few ideas for alternative supplies for jewellery making, as a way of cutting down on animal by-products and less-evironmentally friendly materials.
As well as making your jewellery more ‘green’, another advantage to using alternative materials is that they can help give your jewellery that extra artisan individuality. By using handmade components especially, you’re ensuring that your creations are unique, and you’re adding more significance to your own creativity with components that are also born from love and creativity (that sentence was really hard to write because it feels sappy, but I do feel that way *G*)

Put your ideas in the comments (or let me know something I don’t know…there is, after all, a lot of scope there *G*)

Stringing materials

Most jewellery has metal components, usually mined from the earth in horrible conditions, but to cut down on the amount used, here are some alternatives.

Unwaxed cotton cord or hemp

 White and Green Hemp Necklace
with Glass Teardrop Pendant by NeicosKnots

Unwaxed cotton cord or hemp- Both materials feel lovely against the skin, and can make up a delicate or casual necklaces depending on how they’re used; both knotting and macrame can make the simple cords into something a lot fancier. Perhaps you could also use any scrap wire to wrap the ends and make a small closure or clasp. For a quick course in macrame go here

Seed Bead Necklets
Metallic Blue Necklace with Flower Pendant
by SmadarsTreasure 

Seed beads and thread can make a really pretty chain for a pendant. A simple strung necklace featuring metallic finish Delicas is versatile and delicate, and easy to make, whilst beadweaving, though more time consuming, can be used for a more elaborate effect.

Copper Wire
One of a Kind Metal Pendant, Handcrafted
 From Found Metals by twistedbeading

Old, unloved electrical cables can be mined for copper wire, so you get some cheap supplies while recycling (PLEASE make sure they’re not still connected to electrics, or in use, eek!).  Plus, small pieces of wire from old jewellery and short pieces of scrap wire can be used for wiring up beads or charms; even if you’re ‘only’ using plated metals (metal is metal after all), snip the tops off previously-wired beads, collect ‘mistake’ pieces, and save them. At the very least, they can be used for practicing wirework skills, or making tiny wire charms like coils and scrolls.

Beads

 Artisan Lampwork beads
Piranha Lampwork Bead Set Blue Cobalt Black by helbels



This type of bead makes a gorgeous alternative to gemstones, and when buying handmade, artisan lampwork beads, you can be sure than the person creating them is doing so in better conditions than gemstone miners. Silver glass, like Triton, and dichroic glass can sub for the flashes in labaradoite and other stones, whilst the richness of jewel-coloured transparent glasses match rubies and sapphires. Plus, look out for beads with mica-powder decoration for a shimmery, pearl effect.



Lampwork Glass Beads Purple Sparkles
on Grey Pixiedust Spacers by boga119

 

Deep Cherry Red Transparent Lampwork
Small Disc Spacer Beads Set of 12 by JSavinaBeads



Glass pearls
Fantasy Fairy Jewelry – The Garden Fae
 by StarrlightJewelry 

There’s a wide range of glass pearls out there in beautiful colours, which make great substitutes for those taken out of oysters. Swarovski Elements (TM, et cetera) in particular do high quality glass pearls; in a fit of paranoia about rumours of fish scales being used in the coating of some glass pearls, I e-mailed them about this, and they stated there are no animal by-products involved in theirs, so vegans can rest easy about them!

Amazing Cream Glass Pearl Hand Beaded Necklace
with Sterling Silver by metalclothnwood 
 Cerulean sea necklace by
pinkbubble  

Polymer Clay  

 

Polymer Clay Cabochons Lemon Grass Faux
 Dichroic Set of 3 by Polymerpretties


- with a little bit of polymer clay, and some mica-powders, you make your own pearl-esque beads, and you’ll be able to control the size, shape, colour, and texture of them to get a more organic feel. With a few more supplies, you can mimic the look of almost any material with polymer clay, including lots of non-vegan things, making them a lot animal friendlier. If you’re not polymer-clay inclined, have a browse on Etsy – there are lots of talented artists there who are open to commissions.



Giant Pink Faux Rock Pendant 



Faux River Stone Necklace
by juliespace

 



Precious Metal Clay (silver)



Sorceress Fine Silver Earrings
in Chocolate Amethyst by CeeGeeJewellery

Making your own fine silver findings and beads from recycled cars? Because it’s maleable and pliant, you can mould elaborately curved toggle clasps, shape bead caps directly onto the beads for a perfect fit, and make lightweight hollow beads by connecting two curved circles together with silver clay paste.
I have to admit, I had reservations about what the ‘organic binders’ were, because this vague and oddly sinister description made me think of a distraught man yelling out ‘Organic Binders is people!!!!” (geek) but apparently the binders are plant-based. Phew.

Frank-Fine Silver Owl Handmade Necklace
Pendant Sterling by abbielyn



Christmas Confetti fine silver circle earrings

 

Well, Sunday Browsing has been and gone without a post; what with various things, it’ll be going on hiatus for a while, although I’ll probably still highlight an item or shop if I stumble across it :)

Other types of blog posts aren’t going anywhere however, you’ll all be extremely happy to find out *G*

Edit: or maybe I’ll just make Sunday Browsing posts shorter…finding as many as I was doing was taking too much time. So, a bit of a break, and then it’ll start up again. I’m sure you’re all happy about this too *G*

 

Happy New Year everyone!

And now:

Practical Polymer Clay Tips

And here are some of mine, that come purely from my experiences with polymer clay. Many polymer clay artists have incredibly insightful tips scattered all over the internet; I do not. I just have these *G*

  • If you like to use sparkly, shimmery dust of any kind (mica, flakes etc.) designate one whole day “Sparkly Day” and do nothing else that day. No matter how hard you clean, how strenuously you scrub, the sparkles WILL get everywhere – your clay, your hands, your significant other’s work clothes. Best to accept this, and embrace it to the fullest.

  • My favourite working surface is a cermaic tile (floor, bathroom or kitchen), as they’re generally smooth, grip the clay well without grabbing it too much, and can be popped straight in the oven, which helps keep flat components from being distorted by transferring them. DIY shops may have offcuts, or wait until you’re getting your bathroom re-tiled, and ask for leftovers from the nice builders *G*

  • Always have hand-wipes nearby; some colours bleed very easily, to the point that their colour can be transferred to the next one you use. A quick wipe of your hands solves any problems beforehand.

  • Don’t burn it, don’t eat it, and don’t mix it with anything that will be toxic if baked. Other than that, experiment! Mix in herbs, pencil shavings, fragments of sweetie papers, bits of grated, cured scrap beads. Dip it in vegan gravy, stain it with tea, roll it in sea salt. You might get a few fugly test beads, but you’ll never again have to wonder if baking beads suspended on dry spaghetti is a good idea (I ran out of cocktail sticks).

Check out the post that gave birth to some of these tips here: http://allthosethingsandtheotherstoo.blogspot.com/2009/06/polymer-clay-addiction.html

More tips will be forthcoming (when I erm…discover them *G*)

 
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